A report in 1878 stated that this firm had existed for nearly a century. The forerunner was Steers & Wilkinson, scissors makers, in Townhead Street and Castle Hill. It was listed after 1816 and involved two brothers – George Steer (1789-1844) and William Steer (1791-1864) – and Thomas Wilkinson. The brothers were apparently the sons of Joseph Steer, a scissor smith, who may have died in 1794. Steers & Wilkinson was dissolved in 1834. By 1837, Steer Brothers was listed at Castle Hill Works (close to present Castle Street), manufacturing fine scissors, shears, and a variety of cutlery. In 1842, William Steer applied for the ‘Key’ (picture) corporate mark, which dated from 1681. George Steer died on 18 January 1844, aged 54. His widow, Elizabeth, married Robert Hounam in 1846.
Steer & Webster was listed after 1845 as a merchant and maker of fine scissors, shears, razors, and table knives at Castle Hill, with an office in London. The partners were William Steer, who lived in Wilton Place, London; and Thomas Biggin Webster, Queen Street, Sheffield. In 1851, however, their partnership was dissolved. William Steer apparently retired. He died at Palace Garden Villas, Kensington, London, on 28 September 1864, aged 74. He was buried at the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green, leaving under £1,000. Webster continued the business. In 1851, the company was awarded a Prize Medal at the Great Exhibition and another medal at the International Exhibition (London) in 1862. Steer & Webster’s gold and silver scissors and shears attracted the plaudits. The firm employed ten hands in 1861.
By the 1870s, Thomas B. Webster was still managing the firm, though not very competently according to a bankruptcy hearing in 1878. In straitened circumstances, he had dismissed the firm’s bookkeepers and with his son had allowed the books to get into a ‘thoroughly muddled state’ (Leeds Mercury, 5 July 1878), with about £6,000 debts (against assets of about £4,500). A new partner, Ernest Alfred Swann (who stated in the Census that the workforce was 66), liquidated the business in 1882, when the debts had reached £12,000. George Butler & Co acquired the ‘Key’ mark. Thomas Biggin Webster, ‘gentleman’, died on 1 April 1886, aged 64, and was buried in the General Cemetery.